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Monserrate now a senator

“The senator is now the senator.”

Those were the words of Wayne Mahlke, spokesman for state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst), who took the oath of office with the other 31 members of the Democratic delegation Friday as he awaited his next court date on charges of slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass during an argument.

Monserrate, a former Marine and NYPD officer, did not encounter any difficulty from fellow Democrats or Republicans, Mahlke said. State Sen. Martin Golden (R−Brooklyn) had sponsored a resolution calling on Monserrate to hold back from taking the oath until the criminal case was resolved. The resolution received little support from either party.

Golden could not be reached for comment Friday. The Senate was scheduled to begin its new session Wednesday.

Monserrate, who was elected to the City Council in 2001, officially resigned his Council post at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31, according to a brief letter to Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D−Manhattan) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He submitted a written oath of office to the secretary of state, according to Mahlke.

The swearing−in does not end Monserrate’s legal odyssey, however. His next court date is Jan. 16 and he will be forced to step down if convicted of a felony. The senator’s new colleagues in the state Legislature — including Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith (D−St. Albans) — have been hesitant to criticize him for the alleged assault. Monserrate’s presence in the Senate could provide the crucial majority vote Senate Democrats have sought for decades.

“With the advice of counsel, Sen. Smith is reviewing all appropriate options,” said Shelly Mayer, Smith’s attorney. “Like every citizen, Hiram Monserrate is entitled to the presumption of innocence of the charges against him.”

Mayer noted that several Republican senators have also been subject to criminal charges while seated in the Senate and called for Monserrate’s case to be dealt with quickly by the legal system.

“In the interim, Sen. Smith will determine what, if any, Senate action is warranted,” she said.

Monserrate, who has received support from a domestic violence group, among others, also got a vote of confidence from his girlfriend Dec. 29. Karla Giraldo gave an exclusive interview to the Spanish−language weekly paper she works for, El Resumen, denying any assault had taken place the night of Dec. 18, 2008.

Monserrate found a card a police officer had given her, she said. After explaining that he could protect her and she did not need the help of other police officers, Monserrate threw the card in the trash, she said.

Later that evening, as she lay in bed with her eyes closed, she heard Monserrate trip and they stumbled into each other, resulting in the cut above her eye, Giraldo said in the interview.

A criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney’s office quoted Giraldo hours after the incident saying she and Monserrate got into a fight and he slashed her face with a broken glass.

Stephen Stirling contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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